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Humans of the U: Kebba Kah

"It has been rewarding to pursue my passion and help with the pandemic response at the same time."

“Education and health have always been fascinating to me. Growing up, I always thought I would become a doctor, but as I got older, my uncle introduced me to public health. I realized how enjoyable it is for me to work with people in their communities, rather than in a hospital setting, so I decided to pursue an education in that field. After completing my undergraduate degree in public and environmental health at the University of The Gambia, I was awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) fellowship as a Fogarty Scholar through the Center for International Rural and Environmental Health at the University of Iowa College of Public Health. Following my time there, I received my Master of Public Health from East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania and moved back to my home country of The Gambia to work.

As I applied for more jobs, I saw the benefit of increased education, and decided to pursue my Ph.D. As I was researching schools, one of my advisors from Pennsylvania who had become a professor here at the U reached out to encourage me to look into coming here. The rest is history!

My research here centers around reproductive health, and whether or not we see disparities in adverse health outcomes for different groups. Right now, utilizing data collected by the CDC and at the state level, we are looking at disparities in regard to race, ethnicity and access to health services, as well as trying to understand the effects that COVID-19 may be having on top of everything else.

I’m incredibly passionate about education, and in addition to my research and Ph.D. work, during my time here in Utah I’ve been able to pursue teaching opportunities. I work as a teaching assistant in the Division of Public Heath, and have also helped train over 200 people as COVID-19 contact tracers. It has been rewarding to pursue my passion and help with the pandemic response at the same time.

When I have free time, I try and stay active. I enjoy running, and am only slightly addicted to soccer, which I play about three times a week. Also, I enjoy cooking a lot; mostly West African dishes, which I love to share with friends.

I am grateful for the opportunity I have to learn and work here at the university. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support and backing of many different individuals and organizations throughout this journey, and I’m thankful for the great experiences I’m having.”

—Kebba Kah, MPH, COVID-19 contact tracing project coordinator